Thursday, October 29, 2009
Vice mayor Bagley first woman to preside
By SUE WATSON
Another likely first took place in Holly Springs at last week’s board of aldermen meeting at city hall.
In Mayor Andre’ DeBerry’s absence, vice mayor and first term alderman Johnnie Bagley took up the gavel and presided over the meeting.
She could very well be the first woman to conduct a meeting and function as mayor in the city, a moment not lost on those present, particularly several department heads who referred to Bagley often as “Madam Mayor.”
Former alderman Nancy Hutchens said she was the first female alderman and she never presided over a board meeting because she was never vice mayor. She said Bagley is the first to preside.
The meeting was kicked off with public works director Don Hollingsworth asking the board to reject all bids on a comprehensive water, sewer and gas study - a request for proposals. Mayor DeBerry had recommended the two bids be rejected, he said, and the board approved the recommendation. He did not state who the responders were or the reasons for rejecting the proposals.
The board authorized hiring Elliott and Britt Engineering as engineer for a water project involving drilling a new well, building a large storage tank and a water treatment plant and putting down some 12-inch water mains - the project expected to be built near the North Holly Springs bypass road that connects highway 311, 4 East and 7 South to the West Holly Springs Exit.
Clencie Cotton asked to board to state its intentions to financially support or not support an E-Win Jobs Center in Holly Springs.
Bagley said the board has seen nothing from Three Rivers Planning and Development District on the proposed cost sharing and Cotton told the board that Mayor DeBerry was aware of the proposal and supposed to bring the matter up at the last meeting.
Aldermen Russell Johnson and Garrie Colhoun motioned and seconded tabling the discussion until the mayor returns.
John Collins, general manager of the Holly Springs Utility Department, presented to the board for adoption a roll-back in the fuel cost adjustment to be implemented by the Tennessee Valley Authority November 1. Residential customer rates, which were at $101.38 per 1,000 KWH in October 2009, will drop to $100.29 for the same usage beginning November 1. Compared to October 2008, the rates were 110.60 for the same usage. The board unanimously voted to adopt the new rates, which have decreased by over 11 percent compared to October 2008, Collins said.
Hollingsworth reported on progress on laying a new six-inch (yellow) gas main along Highway 178 near Red Banks and extension to Lee’s Crossing. He said the gas project replaces old metal pipes that have been in the ground for years. Three construction crews with T.J. Construction Co. are working the project, he said.
He said experts with the Geographic Information System at Mississippi State University are scheduled to come to the city to help implement a new GIS mapping software system for the city for the utilities.
Hollingsworth said a problem with water seepage under the east side of a 300-foot section of West Boundary Extended under construction will require the installation of a six-inch drain pipe. The board approved a supplemental agreement with Union Construction for $12,250 to install the pipe.
Larry Miller, supervisor of buildings and grounds, reported to the board that his crew has been running the weed eaters around fire hydrants, signs and street corners as well as keeping up at the cemetery. The gutters were cleaned at the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum.
The board inquired how many applications were submitted for positions in his department advertised six weeks ago. Miller said about 100 and that he awaits the mayor’s advice on when to make job offers.
Police chief Robert Pearson reported that the administrative phone (252-2122) is not answered from 2 a.m. - 6 a.m. due to shortage of personnel. The board complained that the phone had not been answered on Columbus Day, according to reports from the public. Presently the department has two full-time and two part-time dispatchers and needs another full-time dispatcher to run around the clock, he said. He needs three full-time and three part-time dispatchers to cover all hours.
When the administrative number is not answered, the public is advised to call 911 which will radio patrolling officers if there is an incident. The department’s 252-2121 number is answered at the sheriff’s department which dispatches over the radio to officers in the police department, Pearson said.
Alderman Harvey Payne asked whether a message could be left on the answering machine, leaving a number to call for help, and Pearson said it could with the right kind of equipment.
Aldermen, at the urging of Johnson, asked Pearson if he had any vacancies and he replied there are two. Aldermen then asked the chief to advertise for a dispatcher and pay him or her out of one of the salaries in a vacant position. The motion was approved unanimously.
Fire chief Ken Holbrook said all his personnel would like to go to the state fire academy when a group of firefighters takes an eight-hour practical exam at the fire academy in November. Travel for about seven firefighters and for Holbrook was tabled until the first meeting in November.
(Editor’s note – After the meeting, street supervisor Jarius Leasure advised The South Reporter that his department and the building and grounds employees were not mentioned in an article about the Friday afternoon (October 9) storm that blew a number of large trees over around town. He said about 50 loads of wood were hauled away by his workers in the two weeks following the storm and that both departments helped with cleanup as always.
The South Reporter regrets the oversight of these two important departments and thanks employees for calling the matter to our attention.)
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